Sinning No More: John 7:53-8:11

Focus Passage: John 7:53-8:11 (CEV)

    53 Everyone else went home, 8:1 but Jesus walked out to the Mount of Olives. 2 Then early the next morning he went to the temple. The people came to him, and he sat down and started teaching them. 3 The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses brought in a woman who had been caught in bed with a man who wasn’t her husband. They made her stand in the middle of the crowd. 4 Then they said, “Teacher, this woman was caught sleeping with a man who isn’t her husband. 5 The Law of Moses teaches that a woman like this should be stoned to death! What do you say?”

    6 They asked Jesus this question, because they wanted to test him and bring some charge against him. But Jesus simply bent over and started writing on the ground with his finger.

    7 They kept on asking Jesus about the woman. Finally, he stood up and said, “If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!” 8 Once again he bent over and began writing on the ground. 9 The people left one by one, beginning with the oldest. Finally, Jesus and the woman were there alone.

    10 Jesus stood up and asked her, “Where is everyone? Isn’t there anyone left to accuse you?”

    11 “No sir,” the woman answered.

   Then Jesus told her, “I am not going to accuse you either. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.”

Read John 7:53-8:11 in context and/or in other translations on!

The passage we are going to look at in this entry is one of the most powerful, and it is also one that has a challenging past. In many modern translations, this story from John’s gospel carries with it the note that not all ancient manuscripts include it. This tells me that there were some individuals who really wanted this story to not survive, or some who really wanted this legend to persist.

Regardless of whether this event actually happened as described here or not, for the purposes of our discussion we’ll assume that it did, if for no other reason than that through this encounter, and what Jesus chooses to do, we see an incredible display of God-like love through Jesus’ actions.

At the close of this event, Jesus gives a command that has perplexed me for quite some time. While saying good-bye to the woman at the end of verse 11, He says, “You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.

Some of the more traditional translations say something like, “Go, and sin no more.” Or “Go. From now on sin no more.

This idea has prompted me to wonder, is a “sinless” life even possible? If I take Jesus at His word here, it would seem so. We read elsewhere that “all have sinned” (past tense), but that doesn’t mean that all people are currently sinning (present tense), or that everyone will sin in the future.

There is an idea in some Christian circles that since Jesus’ blood covers our sins, it no longer matters what we do. The idea isn’t nearly as open ended as this, but it might instead be seen instead as simply being free to be ourselves and free to do what we want. It is a wonderful idea, but it cheapens God’s grace.

Receiving grace when we don’t deserve it is wonderful and an incredible gift; Choosing to sin or keep sinning while expecting grace to come is taking advantage of God. The woman received her life back from Jesus, and it came with the command that said something like the NIV says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.

When Jesus has come into our hearts, and our lives, He will change us on the inside, making us free to live without sin. His sacrifice covers our past, and we are empowered and free to live a new life with God.

This event and Jesus’ final command does not lessen the standard for believers, it raises it higher because there is no way we can live a future that is free from sin without Jesus by our side.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

Subscribe to this blog and never miss an insight.